The battle between backup quarterbacks Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond will continue this week.
Both Mannion and Mond saw plenty of opportunities in Sunday's preseason opener at the Las Vegas Raiders.
The contest gave Head Coach Kevin O'Connell game plays to assess both quarterbacks ahead of two joint practices with San Francisco and Saturday's matchup with the 49ers.
Vikings starting quarterback Kirk Cousins returned to Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center today. Cousins had left the team facility Thursday and was a confirmed positive for COVID-19. He is scheduled to participate in Wednesday's practice.
Mannion started and played in three series in the first half, along with one in the fourth quarter. He completed eight of his 12 pass attempts for 79 yards and had a passer rating of 85.1.
"I thought Sean ran the offense well, functioned well in and out of the huddle procedurally, and then made a nice throw there on the strike to Ihmir [Smith-Marsette]. And then we just continued to roll from there," O'Connell said.
Mannion's first two series came up empty, but his final drive of the opening half reached the red zone before ending with a 20-yard field goal by Greg Joseph.
Even though the Vikings didn't fully game plan for the Raiders, Mannion explained the Vikings had a particular play for what they were expecting but saw something different from the Las Vegas defense on a third-and-goal from the 2.
"My thought process was, 'I can leave the ball high and safe knowing we have points in hand with a great kicker in Greg,' but in reality I think what I ought to do is just continue to exhaust my progression and move on," Mannion said.
"I think I just got a little bit too careful, and we've got other people in the play and if I can just move on there, maybe there's something, maybe there's not, but obviously just anytime you're in the red zone, you want to come away with seven," Mannion added.
View game action photos between the Vikings and Raiders during the 2022 preseason opener at Allegiant Stadium.
Mond went 9-for-14 with 119 passing yards and led the Vikings to their only two touchdowns of the game. He finished with a passer rating of 130.7.
Mond entered the game with 6:19 left in the second quarter and quickly led the Vikings downfield for another field goal. It was in the second half, though, where the second-year quarterback gained some momentum — and confidence.
The Vikings first possession of the third quarter was extended when Mond delivered a 22-yard strike to wide receiver Dan Chisena to convert a fourth-and-5 from the Las Vegas 36. A few plays later, Mond found Albert Wilson for a 2-yard touchdown to pull Minnesota to within three at 16-13.
"I think it just kind of sparked a little bit in getting me in a rhythm. That's kind of my big thing, just trying to start as fast as possible, and there were a couple of throws that I missed, a couple of reads that I missed early," Mond said on the play. "But to be able to convert that on fourth down and [O'Connell] getting the offense and myself the confidence and the ability to go and convert on fourth down was huge. It was a good route, good throw. I saw zone coverage, and Dan did a great job and came up with it."
O'Connell agreed on the spark the fourth-down conversion provided.
"That's what we want to see him do," O'Connell said. "I have no doubt that both these guys are going to continue to compete, but there are some critical plays in there that both those guys were able to make."
Mond put together a nice scoring drive in the fourth quarter. He found Myron Mitchell on back-to-back plays of 21 and 16 yards, respectively, before completing a 16-yard pass to Jalen Nailor. The Mond-Wilson connection then struck again, as the quarterback delivered a perfect ball to Wilson in stride for the pair's second score of the day, a 20-yarder on third-and-11.
O'Connell said Mond was able to get into more of a rhythm as the second half went on.
"You saw him get into his third and fourth progressions every single time – late there to Jalen Nailor or Myron on the backside – those were his secondary or, in some cases, his third or fourth progressions," O'Connell said. "When you see him getting back to that, that's growth."
Mond said he is more comfortable compared to his rookie year, but he knows there's still plenty to work on.
"I think there's probably less thinking than last year, especially this time in the preseason," Mond said. "There's definitely a couple of throws I would say I wasn't necessarily thinking; I should have ripped and should have given my guys an opportunity to come down with it and some things that were wide open. I've just got to come back this week and figure out how I can continue to get better, and that's kind of my main focus."